Monthly Archives: January 2015

Observations at World Conference and Following By Clair Brenneman

It was very rewarding for me to return to Paraguay for MWC and to observe the progress that has been made following my two years of service 54 years ago.

The Mennonites have not only progressed themselves, but more meaningful to me was the way they have reached out to the Paraguayans [most of Spanish heritage]and indigenous people in terms of education, health care, welfare and evangelism.

Having worked on the Trans Chaco Highway, it was a highlight to travel the highway built by MCC personnel.  It not only provides a market road for the Mennonites but for the Paraguayan ranchers. We heard several comments that if the road had not been built, the existence of the Mennonite colonies would be questionable today. Following my presentation at the conference a number of people came forward and expressed gratitude for what the PAX boys had done for their country.  One person told me that his Dad, Jacob Penner, used to cook for PAX boys who were building the highway.

Following the conference, we traveled to the Chaco on the Trans Chaco highway.  We saw semis coming to Asuncion, the capital city, with loads of beef cattle, dairy products and other products from the Mennonite colonies.  On one occasion while stopping enroute, I observed dairy products on display racks in a store. They all indicated the product was manufactured in “Colonia Menonita”.

To build the Trans Chaco highway was not easy task. There was the rainy season, swamp areas, jungle, the difficulty in obtaining parts for machines, intense heat, and the morale was not always positive. It is rewarding to look back and see the accomplishment and forget some of the struggles we went through.

Parguayan officials questioned the possibility of such a task.  But MCC moved forward and followed the progress of the highway to its completion. I am grateful to the Harry Harder family who left their comfortable home in Mountain Lake, Minnesota and moved to Paraguay to be in charge of the highway and the PAX boys.  Harry was engineer for the project. Ann, his wife, an excellent support person, gave home schooling to their children, Martin and Margaret.  They were missionaries in a non-traditional way.

Although the Trans Chaco highway was a major project of MCC in Paraguay, may we not forget other PAX boys who served there. Inner colony roads were built by PAX prior to the Trans Chaco to connect villages within a colony and to connect colonies with each other.  Those PAX boys were under the leadership of Vern Buller of Bloomfield, Montana, who with his family lived in the Chaco during construction of those roads.

PAX boys also served with MCC in agricultural extension, experimental farms, etc

I am very grateful for my experience in Paraguay, and affirm the work and mission of MCC.

Pax Events at Assembly 15 of Mennonite World Conference – Asuncion, Paraguay – July 14 – 19, 2009. A Report with Comments.


July 16, Thursday, was “Pax day” including a presentation at the general morning service on The Trans-Chaco Road delivered by Pax Paraguay veteranClair Brenneman of Palmer Lake, CO, plus a three-hour Pax Reunion during the afternoon.

Among comments heard that day and later, several adults (Mennonites) of Asuncion said they had no idea MCC Paxmen had been involved with the Chaco Road project. It was news, of course, to even more youth in attendance. Thanks is due all who had a hand in scheduling the report. (Clair, by the way, demonstrated complete Pax “cool” when total electricity cut off during part of his presentation to the throng of 5,000 that morning.)

Traversing six blocks from the main conference center was required to a private school for our three-hour session after lunch (and short siesta). No doubt, it was assumed that spry old Pax guys would have no trouble with such a move.


Brenneman officiated while Kasper worked logistics and tech. Bert Lobe, who was most instrumental in arrangements for the reunion, offered a sincere welcome from MWC, praised the Pax film, and had to hurry to another meeting with no chance for questions. Representing MCC, Ron Fleming and Herman Bontrager, recounted many values of the Pax program and distributed some detailed statistics of “then and now,” discussed recent polling of youth motivation, church support, etc. The challenges and potential of MCC’s new international, experimental, initiatives were presented. (See MCC websites: the SEED program begun in Columbia, 2009, and description of “New Wine/New Wineskins” in cooperation with MWC). I regret not having a chance to visit with Sarah Histand, who was present, about specific progress with the Histand Gift.

The film PAX SERVICE An Alternative to War took a major portion of remaining time. But for many it was their first viewing and I heard very positive responses – dare we say “pride” in the film and its message.

Two men with noticeable interest at the meeting, taking notes, asking questions, were sons of Paxmen – one whose father (name?) had worked in Africa, and Marvin, son of Harry Harder of Mt. Lake, MN, the first engineer and trainer of road builders for the Trans-Chaco. Another fellow provided critical, last minute, technical assistance for showing the film that day, then appropriately introduced himself as “the last Paxman in Paraguay;” he was David (of Asuncion), a son of Dr. John Schmidt (MN and KS) who founded renowned Kilometer 81-Leprosy Clinic and Hospital in eastern Paraguay.


Author Gerhard Ratzlaff of Asuncion, in very few minutes, gave valuable description of his motivation – the necessity – that compelled him to writeThe Trans-Chaco Highway, How It Came to Be, a 1998 book available in English as well as German. We’ve known Herr Ratzlaff to continue expounding the MCC story, past and present, whenever he can.

Finally, that afternoon, we enjoyed the greeting and special warm reminisences of former MCC Executive Director John Lapp.

A unique highlight of Assembly 15 for me, in this city where Kathryn and I now teach in “retirement,” was the renewing of old and finding new Pax and MCC connections.

Arlo Kasper (Pax Germany,’55-‘57; Akron,’57-‘58)


It would be interesting to see who could identify the most individuals in these pix.   Image 4 shows John Lapp speaking to the group.  The distinguished gray-haired gentleman in front, shots 1 and 4, facing to the right, is Gerhard Ratzlaff.
–Arlo Kasper

PS: In trying to purchase another copy of Cal Redekop’s book on Pax at two different booth outlets during last day of the conference, all were sold out – great!


Salzburg, Austria, PAX Reunion 

Former volunteers at the Salzburg, Austria, PAX project will hold their triennial reunion September 10-13, 2009, at Akron, PA, in MCC facilities.  The program includes an open session and dinner for all interested area ex-PAXers Saturday evening, September 12, at 7:00.  Contact Richard Boshart if you are able to attend.
Other events include sharing times, singing, a tour of Lancaster County and Amish meal, an performance at Sight & Sound Theater, and a tour of MCC Resource Center and Ten Thousand Villages.
The gem of all PAX projects ran from spring of 1961 to 1964, with up to 12 men in the unit at one time and dwindling to only a few as the program wound down.  PAX built six multi-family houses and a church for an Anabaptist German speaking group related to Apostolics, refugees from the former Yugoslavia, primarily Serbia.  Close ties continue between the volunteers and the families of the Siedlung at Rif, some 10 kilometers from Salzburg near Hallein.  At the reunion, we will deliberate whether we want to hold the next reunion in Austria in 2011 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the project.  The reunion in 1995 was held there with much joy and emotion, gratitude for the gift of service that resulted in new homes and economic footing for the future.  Some 35 PAX men and spouses are preregistered for the September, 2009, reunion.
Planners of the reunion include Richard Boshart, Lowell Bender, and Ervie Glick.


Oopah!  Members of former PAX teams in Greece met for a reunion at the MCC Welcoming Place in Akron, PA, June 5-8, 2008.   Coming from California, Oregon, Florida, Canada, New York, Kansas, and other distant states to meet with local members, the group of 100 included spouses and children.  Peter Dyck, who was MCC’s director of European and North African work during that time, was a speaker and guest. Orville Schmidt presented a video of a Greek PAX tour in 2004.

Peter Dyck
Reunion Participants
Left to right: Kenneth Davis, Omar and Sara Lapp, LaMar and Kathryn Stauffer, Lois Martin, Lydia and Menno Ringenberg-Riehl, Dale Weaver, and Dan Bert

The PAX program began in Greece in 1952 and ended formally in 1972.  Projects for agricultural development and research, fruit and vegetable canning, and building of farm buildings for demonstration and education were undertaken in northern Greece and on the island of Crete.

Local members organized the reunion event.  Introductions and reminiscences began the program.  On Friday a tour of Lancaster County included visits to MCC’s Material Resources Center and Ten Thousand Villages’ warehouse, and the Mennonite Information Center with the Hebrew Tabernacle.  Dinner at an Amish home was a highlight of the day.

Saturday’s visit to the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Lancaster, PA, had special meaning as Father Alexander Veronis briefly explained the icons decorating the church and distinctive features of the Greek Orthodox faith.  Young people from the church, dressed in traditional costumes, exhibited their Greek dancing skills for the enjoyment of the group.

Group Dinner
Group dinner at an Amish farm in Lancaster County Photo by Althea Philips

Also on Saturday’s program, after Peter Dyck related the story of PAX’s beginning, Ron Flaming and Chris Landes brought the group up to date on MCC activities and issues. 

Joining the Greek Paxers for the Sunday worship service were students at MCC’s Summer Peace Building Institute.  After Ken Sensenig’s sermon, Sikhylulekile Mkandla from Zimbabwe responded with a few words about forgiveness and peace in her country.  Many of the group committed to pray for the leaders and people of Zimbabwe for changes of heart that would  alleviate the suffering there.

For further information contact Althea Philips or Omar Lapp at


Camp Amigo Pax reunion

Fifty six years ago a number of young men from various Mennonite communities  met at Akron to launch a new program called Pax .If this experiment proved successful the program would continue.. The Pax program did go on for twenty five years. From Oct. 8-11 2007 many of these same men reunited at Camp Amigo near Sturgis Mi., this time not as strangers but more like brothers because of the bonding that occurred in those Pax experiences.

Attendees were Menno Gaeddert who was unit leader at Espelkamp,Marvin Gehring,Roger Hochstetler Homer Kolb.Jay Lehman, John Mann, Richard Oberholtzer, Luke Rhodes, Arnold Roth, Albert Roupp, Richard Rush, Willard Stucky, Robert Swartz, Carl E Yoder, Melvin Helmuth and William Yoder. Frank Heidebrecht from Hamburg Germany showed pictures of his work of sending supplies into Kosovo. Franks’ family was one of the families that got one of the Espelkamp houses and he caught the Pax spirit. Also present was Anna Holdeman and her two daughters. Anna is the widow of Ivan Holdeman who was one of our group.

Richard Rush

Pax Committee

A PAX committee of Al Keim, Orville Schmidt, Arlo Kasper, Arlin Hunsberger and Cal Redekop has several projects under way–the Pax Film Project; the Histand Gift; and most recently the creation by the Mennonite Bible School near Basle of a “peace walk which features among other things a fountain rededicated to PAX.

In July the Backnang, Germany community held a 50th anniversary celebration for the construction of their church house by PAX men.  A number of PAX men attended.

I’d like to invite a 1000 word essay on the 50th anniversary event of the Enkenbach siedlung in 2003.  At the invitation of the siedlung and the leadership of Orville Schmidt more than 40 men and their spouses attended the event.

Please send in (  stories, recollections, current experiences, thoughts and reflections.  All will be published by this web page.


In the summer of 2006 I received, as many of the Bechterdissen PAX boys did, a letter inviting us to come to Bechterdissen and to be a part of the 50 year celebration.  I put the letter aside with out much further thought.   Earlier in the year some relatives had asked if I would take a group to Germany.  As the plans for that trip were being made I kept Bechterdissen in the back of my mind.  We had planned to go to Germany the beginning of Sept. and I thought I would visit Bechterdissen after the trip with the relatives.  I communicated with Heini he asked if I could come earlier and help celebrate the 50 year celebration.  So I changed my visit from the end of my trip to the beginning and booked a flight for August 28 arriving there on the 29th.  I also wanted to leave the following Sunday morning to meet my relatives.  I told Heine about my planes and soon received a call asking if I could possibly come so I would be there on the 27th  which was a Sunday or Sept 2.  Sundays were the most important time because more people would be there.  So I changed my flight and left here on Friday the 25th and arrived in Germany the 26th

The celebration went from Sunday to Sunday.  The first Sunday Peter Huebert  spoke and the choir sang.  And in the evening there were interviews with people who were involved with establishing and planning the Gemeinde .  Monday was open. There was no meeting.  Tuesday evening was a program by the various choirs.  Wednesday there was a breakfast for the retired “Senioren” people with activities afternoon and a slide show in the evening. Wednesday they had a breakfast for the women and in the evening they had  personal testimonies about what God did in your life (the first time for sharing like this).

Friday evening was praise worship young people style with a group “Guido Baltes and Band” (also a first). Saturday was a fun and food time with a church picnic, and Sunday there was a guest speaker Dr. Bernhard Ott from the Schweiz with a gemeinsames Mittagessen.  That was the activities for the week.  I was there for the first Sunday but left to go to Frankfurt the following Sunday morning so I missed the last day. The church was quite full most of the time. I think they have about 700+ members.

I stayed with Karen and Heinrich Tyart, their house is right behind the church.  I had met them about ten years earlier and Daniel their son had spent two weeks with us when he was in the USA.  So we didn’t have to get acquainted but were able to continue were we left off ten years ago.  Heini of course took good care of me also. Heini is also good friends with the Tyarts so they worked together to make me feel at home.  Heini had me over several days at his apartment in Bad Salzufen. He is a very good cook and we spend time visiting the town, swimming in the spa pools and just sharing.  As I think most of us know Heini was a bright light in our Bechterdissen experience and I am really blessed  to have him as a friend and a Christian brother. We shared, reminisced, some times wept together. I met and spoke with many others in the church: the pastor, others in leadership and others.  I visited also with Wilfred Regier and his wife.  Wilfred doesn’t look any older than when we worked together 50 years ago.  I met for the first time Fritz Wedler and his wife, in fact I went with the Tyarts to their house for “Kaffee und Kuchen” and what a nice couple they are.  Some of you probably worked with him.  I was disappointed  I didn’t get to see Lothar Teuchert and Rudy Schultz.  I have such good memories working with both of them. The young people, of course, didn’t experience the PAX era but I did speak with some of them and it was interesting to find lots of similarities with young people here in the states. They as most young people are groping for their identity and Daniel Tyart is working with them trying to give them guidance and direction.

Sunday evening I was able to speak on behalf of the PAX boys who worked in Bechterdissen.  It was a walk through the history of the Bechterdissen  Gemeinde. Various people still living, who had a part in bringing the community together, were brought up on stage and interviewed and asked questions.  I sat and listened to stories I had not heard before about the work that was put into this project.  We all know about the paper work necessary to do any thing in Germany and these were stories about the beginning. When it came time for me to go on stage and be interviewed I walked up and the people began to clap and I felt all the appreciation for all the work that you all gave so freely and joyfully. I felt like this appreciation was not for me, I only did a small part, and I knew I needed to share this gratitude with all of you who contributed. I felt so much gratitude I could have wept.  It was genuine and real and I wish all of you could have been there to feel the appreciation. I shared about how I felt I was giving two years of my life and receiving almost no money for doing it.  I sorta felt a little selfrighteous about it back in the 50’s. I shared I was excited about the adventure and seeing Europe and I wasn’t aware what God was doing with me and with the people in Bechterdissen. And then later after I returned home I realized how little I really gave and how much I received. I shared that the experience changed my life.  It enlarged my world.  I experienced real Christians in Germany and I knew God was much bigger than I could have imagined. That was the essence of my interview and I trust and believe you would have said some thing similar.
I was amazed that some things we did 50 years ago would be remembered and appreciated to this day.  I decided that we did it as unto the Lord and because of our attitude God used it to bless us and others even remembered for over 50 years.  Let me tell you again your work as a Pax boy  was and is still to this day very appreciated  Just praise God for what he did through you.

That is a birds eye view of what went on during that week of celebration and thank God I was able to represent you and I hope you felt like you were there with me.

Marvin Moyer

My Pax Experience by Marlin Gerber

With the exception of being out of Ohio two or three times, my first taste of  travel was in 1955 as a 20 year old after attending two years at Bluffton College. My parents drove me to Akron, PA, to join the PAX program with 26 other conscientious objectors. Our mission was to build housing for homeless WWII refugees: and as General Hershey advised us, “you are representing America abroad.”  He came to the orientation and spoke with us for several hours.  Many of the experiences during the next three years were ordinary and expected, some were unexpected and challenging, and still others fun and educational.

It didn’t take long to become acquainted with most of the other boys, some of whom I’d live and work  with the entire three years.

My encounter  with a 16 year old German youth, Fritz Moeller, on the old troop ship ‘Groote Beer” taking us to Europe was fun.  We still email and have visited each other several times. Together with two Dutch youth, we tossed a note within a bottle into the Atlantic which we later received in the mail from a French person who found it on a beach in France.  (More on Fritz elsewhere.)

Our Pax group viewed a volunteer group working in Holland, stopped at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) office in Amsterdam, stopped for a two day orientation in the Frankfurt office, and enjoyed the remainder of the journey  through the countryside to Backnang in southern Germany on a leased bus with driver. With us was Pastor Duerkson, who had taught music in a Mennonite college, so we had practiced lots of singing on the boat, and sang at the Pax orientation in Backnang as well.

Working in construction with German workers at that site, I quickly developed skills learned in the German course I took in college. The language in southern Germany is a low German, vaguely comparable to the high (correct) German language of the north and taught in textbooks.

Our main staple for meals was the famous MCC canned beef that is donated and  canned in rural America, lots of potatoes, vegetables, fresh baked bread and various US dept of Agriculture canned butter, cheese, apple butter, etc.  (see chapter on MCC canned meat)

It was determined that I’d begin work in the plastering trade at Backnang.  I began to plaster the outside of the block condo type buildings, then continued in the basements and worked upwards into areas requiring more skill.

About 9 AM each working morning one of the cooks would bring freshly baked bread from the local bakery, hot chocolate and generous chunks of  surplus U.S. department of agriculture cheese which we called “second breakfast.”

During this 15 minute rest us Pax boys would receive our mail and entertain ourselves by trying to out-do each other in lifting weights.  Attention was focused on the hand-made barbell which was a heavy piece of pipe with a bucket sized chunk of concrete attached to each end.  I was pretty good at this activity!

The only personal washing facility we had was a washbasin in a 4 x 4 bathroom with 8 guys in an apartment, but there were approximately 20 pax boys living  in the entire unit.  Friday was “bath night” so after supper, we’d all pile into the 1955 VW bus, or onto our bicycles, drive into town and take our weekly bath at the public bath house.  One didn’t want to breathe too deeply on the way into town if riding in the bus! The work week ended ‘Saturday noon so we had that afternoon off plus Sunday.–except for me, when I had to prepare for the German youth-Pax boy  choir practice on Sunday evenings. Other activities during the week generally included Bible study on Wednesdays, basketball on Thursdays, and occasionaly a few of us would get invited into homes for a meal.

Recently several people put together a DVD of the MCC Pax program. The program started in 1952 and ended in the mid seventies with over 1,200 young men working in more than a few countries.   It was shown on National TV.  At the end of the German segment, I was caught going into an outhouse. Acouple Paxers pushed the  outhouse over onto the door with me inside. I quickly kicked  my way out through the roof to  chase  the pranksters but didn’t catch them!    These DVDs can be ordered at the MCC media center in Akron, PA.

I forgot to mention we worked as much as we could with the youth in the community, some of which we still maintain close connections.  I helped to distribute Christmas bundles sent there by our congregations back home.

On our days off we bicycled to notable cities such as Rothenburg, Schwabish Hall, Heidlelberg, and Schorndorf.  Once all of us toured Switzerland in two VW buses to visit historical Mennonite landmarks such as the Langnau Mennonite church and Zurich.

Because not much work could be accomplished in freezing weather, our unit joined other Pax workers  on a 10 day guided trip to the Holy Land at our own expense.  I remember creating some postcard type Christmas greetings to send to my friends back home, which generated some monies to help with my trip,

I remember Christmastime as a youngster feeling jubilation in role playing scenes of wise men who trekked to Bethlehem to celebrate Christ’s birth. Now at age 21, I relived this memory in visiting the Holy Land in person with my European PAX colleagues on a long Christmas break from the workplaces around Europe.

Our taxi cab caravan of 50 MCC workers wound over and around the Jordanian hills the wise men crossed with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. After stooping to enter the low door to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, we descended twenty or more steep stone steps to view the spot where tradition says Christ was born.

The Mennonite church back in Ohio where I grew up provided me a  program of Sunday school education plus I had just finished a Bluffton College course in New Testament history. So I was invigorated and enlightened on this historical Holy Land tour.

One slight disappointment was an unresolved declaration of where the head of John the Baptist’s head lies. One tradition says it is in Damascus, Syria and one says it lies in Jerusalem. Other discrepancies exist concerning historical sites and events in this country.

As we walked where Christ walked, I was humbled to walk in Cana where Christ performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. I was excited to tread  ruins of Capernum where Christ first read from the Holy Scriptures. And I enjoyed a meditation our group experienced on the banks of the Sea of Galilee where Christ called his disciples

The narrow cobble stone streets of Nazareth led us to artisan shops where tin smiths, crafts people, and carpenters practiced their trade. At one end of a street was Mary’s well near a large Tabernacle.

One experience that connected earlier studies of mine with the here and now for me was touching the huge living olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane where Christ was betrayed by Judas.  Gethsemane is immediately across the valley from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock built in the 7Th century AD is a Muslim shrine and is the oldest Islamic monument that stands today–and one of the most beautiful.  Most Jews believe the rock upon which it stands is the very place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac.

The magnificent golden dome that crowns the building was originally made of gold, but was replaced with copper and then aluminum.  The aluminum is now covered with gold leaf.

Other memorable experiences for me were:

When I took communion with my tour group in an upper room;  when I walked “The Way of the Cross” leading to Golgotha on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and finally when I explored the area where Christ ascended into heaven

Backnang was known as “the city of Gerbers” (my namesake) It was also known as a center for leather working.  I have a beautiful wooden plate enhanced with a carving motif done by a gentleman in the city.  Living there for 13 months was a rewarding time, but now it was time to move on.

PAX director Wiebe needed someone to organize a Christmas pagent for the youth in Bielefeld, another Pax unit   in the north. This I would do in addition to plaster.  I took two beautiful Fall days to ride my moped there and slept  at a youth hostel in Bohn, the former capital of Germany.  It was quite an adventure exploring the back country roads, seeing portions of the bombed out city of Koblenz, eating my lunch on the banks of the Rhine River, etc.

The unit leader in Bielefeld was Walter “Poncho”  Schmucker. In November, it was fun helping to plan the presentation of our AmericanThanksgiving history to the German youth. In the Fall I located a cider mill and used a moped to haul   a 5 gallon flask of cider to our unit.

In December, on a cold winter night, a number of Paxers visited a refugee shelter, sharing poems, singing, and distributing Christmas gifts.  These refugees had lived in camps similar to the one we visited for eleven years since the end of WWII.  These refugees lost their homes and all their possessions.  People who needed to tell their stories–and we listened. We gave treats to the children, admired and bought some hand crafts from the women, and sang songs.  These were heart wrenching times.

Marlin Gerber


[This article was found and placed on a browsing table at the August 2009 Menno Nepal reunion by Kathy Martin. It had been printed on MCC News Service stationery, written by Samuel R. Burgoyne, Director of Personnel, United Mission to Nepal, and dated January 2, 1970.]


We shall miss Ben when he leaves us next week on the completion of a three-year period of service. His name could be Dick or Ed or Jim or a score of other names, for his is typical of the pleasant, hard-working youths whom we bunch together as Paxmen.

They come, usually a little shyly, into our language school in Kathmandu, eager to study Nepali, to learn about the country and people from the orientation lectures and reading materials, and to prepare for work in close touch with the people of the Himalayan Kingdom. In moments of leisure they cycle through the narrow streets of the capital. They are intrigued by the friendly people and the bewildering differences of types and dress. All these, against a background of tiered pagodas and gold-covered stupas, form an exotic and colorful picture.

Three months of concentration on Nepali soon pass, and Tom, Ken or Stan moves out to the low-lying terai [sic] area or the mountains on his assignment. It may be back-breaking work in a rock tunnel, part of a power project for the growing town of Butwal. His duties may involve him in training nationals in auto-mechanics. There is a hospital being built in a remote mountain area, four hours climb from a primitive airstrip; and our young man may be responsible for supplies, planning, training of local farmers as masons or carpenters and the actual building work.

Yes, we shall miss Ben and all his tribe, for they have made a tremendous contribution to the work for God in a challenging situation. Quiet, cheerful and industrious, they have often lived hard under difficult conditions. Their dedicated service has been true Christian testimony, and a demonstration of deep faith in Jesus Christ. The United Mission to Nepal shall welcome more such committed Christians to follow in their footsteps.


Since 1956, 21 Paxmen have served in Nepal. The board of the United Mission is happy and thankful for these men and their work. There has been a unique situation of need in Nepal for just this kind of man and, fortunately for us, they have been present to do it. We believe God had led and sent them here and we pray He will continue to do so, for the need of their kind of work continues.

While the modern movement of missions has been spreading widely across the vast coastal countries of Asia, the inner countries of central Asia have remained closed to them. Nepal, in the Himalayan Mountains, was one of these closed lands until 1951. At that time a change of government altered the picture completely, and along with governmental agencies and other foreign groups, Christian missions were also able to enter the country to undertake various forms of Christian service and witness. The entrance was with a rush, in a mounting tide of people and resources. Many societies and boards joined to form the United Mission, to work as one body for one church. Among them is the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities.

Workers in the United Mission have been going into the country at the rate of ten to 15 a year. One year there were over 20. They have spread out in a virgin country to start from scratch and create, build up, manage, and give content to ten projects of service and witness. These have been dispensaries, hospitals, schools, institutions, development projects, and offices. This has required much work in such practical matters as remodeling and equipping rented buildings for quick use, obtaining equipment and putting it to use, erecting new buildings, keeping accounts, and transporting goods.

Almost from its beginning the United Mission has been very fortunate to have a steady crew of Paxmen to assign to these supporting jobs. We just haven’t had the missionaries to do all of these things, especially with this rapid growth in a new situation. It is hard to imagine a better persons [sic] for these practical jobs than the Mennonite young men who volunteer to work under the Pax program.

The American way of life has developed a “breed of young man” that is hard to find anywhere else in the world: part farmer, part mechanic, practical, free thinking, improviser and inventor. Something of the pioneer spirit is still in them. They are able to put their hand to almost anything, and still remain friendly. Put into that mixture a sound Christian faith and experience, and you have just the young fellow to help build up a new mission in a new land.

They have volunteered for three-year terms in Nepal, bringing along a change of clothes, some bedding, and sometimes a tool kit. We have had as many as six at a time. Two of them, on our request, extended their terms in order to finish up a job. One returned to North America, finished school, married, and returned to Nepal on a missionary basis.

Our largest project is a hospital of 135 beds. To create this institution we have rented two old palaces and remodeled them into a hospital. For a number of years we had Paxmen helping with the practical side, working with crews of men constructing added rooms and wings, putting in more plumbing and toilets, doing electrical work, repairing and maintaining machinery and cars; welding, making and mending hundreds of small and large items necessary for this institution. Some worked in the office keeping the accounts, ordering, and buying. These were jobs that needed immediate attention until we could find, process and place long-range missionary personnel to carry this work. Now we have a missionary business manager and a missionary maintenance supervisor, with national staff managing these departments. The Paxmen no longer are needed here.

The girls’ high school started and has continued for eight years in an old palace building. It has needed constant repairing or fixing, such as unplugging the water pipe, fixing the lights so they work, making a new proper toilet, stopping the leak in the roof, acquiring more furniture, putting in plumbing for the science lab. Paxmen have been able to help with much of this.

In the mountains, a five- or six-day hike from the high school, the Mission sent workers to open schools, a dispensary, and a hospital. They began in tents and in tight little village houses made of thatch or bamboo. New buildings had to be constructed. It took full-time workers to manage crews of villagers hired to build, to carefully supervise, teach, and help with the construction of buildings. Paxmen have gone into these primitive conditions and lived for months or years with the missionaries to help build. They have assisted with the construction of over 20 buildings in the mountains of Nepal.

Our biggest use of Paxmen currently is in our Butwal Technical Institute. Here they work with crews of men in construction to erect the dozen buildings for this project, handle accounts and equipment necessary to transport goods from India to the project, teach trainees in the shops, and run machines.

It’s been mostly hard, sweating work for them in these pioneer and difficult situations.

There is also the lighter side, too. Paxmen have grown beards, owned pet dogs, collected weapons, trekked widely through the mountains, experienced close friendships, and joined in church activities. They have learned the language and worked closely with the people. On one occasion villagers offered a Paxman a plot of land if he would marry, return, and live and work among them.

Years of this kind of living and working have their effects on the Paxmen, too. They change, grow, mature, and become able, responsible adults. Many of their letters express these sentiments: “Yes, my time has swiftly come to an end here in Nepal. It has been a great experience working in the United Mission in the different parts of the country. I’m very glad that I have had this opportunity to work here and to work with the many different people in the mission, helping to carry forward God’s mission. This has been a time of maturing and deepening of faith for me. My prayer is that God may continue to keep His guiding hand upon everyone who is serving Him here in His mission.”

Reports from many parts of our United Mission are sprinkled with statements like these: “A Paxman of great service has returned home.”

“Most of the years we had four Paxmen working. Without their help it would have been impossible to carry on our work. Two of them left after three years of dedicated service to the mission.”

So it goes. These are standby, temporary, fill-in men, doing a job with their limited but helpful skills and hands until the Mission catches up and can proceed with their long-range missionary personnel and trained nationals.

We haven’t come to a plateau or standstill in our work in Nepal. We are still expanding and pushing out at many points, and as long as this goes on we need Paxmen to help in His mission in this land. Mostly, in general, we need practical “Jack-of-all-trades” men, who can help to build a house, work with concrete, make some furniture, put in plumbing, fix a car, tune up machines, oversee a few men, put their hand to construction maintenance, and mechanical work.